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Real People, When Itís Warm Or Cold, Share With Their Voices

With every word and thought in every language now streamlined - and streamed - for specific audience targets it is good to appreciate the resilience of electronic media. Broad reach may not satisfy media buyers but thereís a feel to it. Digital media may well be effective and efficient but itís undeniably cold. Sands are shifting; they always do.

radio sand sculptureComing as it has for the last 6 years on February 13th World Radio Day attracts nice words from the great and the good as well as more than a few bytes about a history increasingly distant. Radio’s true believers try to remind one and all that folks listen and listen a lot to the news, music, jokes and ads. And then there are shrugs.

“Radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium there is,” said the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in its annual welcoming statement, “adapting to 21st century changes and offering new ways to interact and participate. Where social media and audience fragmentation can put us in media bubbles of like-minded people, radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster positive dialogue for change. By listening to its audiences and responding to their needs, radio provides the diversity of views and voices needed to address the challenges we all face.” UNESCO enshrined World Radio Day in 2011, February 13th chosen to commemorate United Nations Radio, founded in 1946.

The slogan for this years World Radio Day is “Radio is You.” Big international organizations invested in radio’s reach, technologies and impact are giving space to the celebration with special broadcasts and kind words. “Radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium there is, adapting to 21st century changes and offering new ways to interact and participate,” said the ITU statement. “There is also a changing face to radio services which, in the present times of media convergence, are taking up new technological forms, such as broadband, mobiles and tablets. However, it is said that up to a billion people still do not have access to radio today.” The ITU (International Telecommunications Union), a UN specialized agency, keeps the whole of the radio spectrum organized.

Public broadcasters being particularly attached to radio, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) organized several of its members to submit testimonials from famous people of their love for the medium. “We are looking to use these familiar voices to communicate to our listeners about the power of radio in people’s lives”, said the EBU’s radio guy Graham Dixon in a statement. (See EBU presser on World Radio Day here) “Radio is such an intimate medium, creating a direct relationship between the broadcaster and the listener. These vignettes show the huge influence radio has in shaping lives and careers and the power of radio in reaching audiences in all walks of life.”

European commercial radio support group AER cited reliability, radio always scoring as the most trusted medium. (See AER presser here) The group also noted their constant lobbying struggle over advertising regulations. German private broadcasters association VPRT mentioned “diversity of opinions” and the “contribution to social discourse.” Digital radio received nary a mention.

Many radio broadcasters set aside time on the air to laud their profession. French international broadcasting network France Médias Monde produced a series of special programs. Radio Uzbekistan had an open-house. Sweden’s public broadcaster Sveriges Radio held a seminar. Zimbabwe Broadcasting held a special event at a cricket club in Harare. All India Radio presented a set of historic radio broadcasts, including a recording Jawaharlal Nehru announcing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948. In the ancient Indian city Bhubaneswar, local sand sculptor Manas Sahoo created a special installation marking World Radio Day (pictured above). Russian international broadcaster Sputnik held a 24-hour “marathon.” Just think: three-in-a-row conspiracy theories.

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